U.S. Supreme Court
Cadwalader v. Wanamaker, 149 U.S. 532 (1893)
Cadwalader v. Wanamaker
Argued April 11-12, 1893
Decided May 15, 1893
149 U.S. 532
Imported articles, commercially known as ribbons, composed wholly or partly of silk and chiefly used for trimming hats, bonnets, or hoods, are dutiable at twenty percentum ad valorem, under Schedule N of the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. 488, c. 121.
The case of Hartranft v. Langfeld, 125 U. S. 128, cited and approved.
The case Robertson v. Edelhoff, 132 U. S. 614, cited, distinguished and approved.
The firm of John Wanamaker brought an action in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, State of Pennsylvania, against John Cadwalader, the collector of customs for that district, wherein it was sought to recover from the defendant moneys paid under protest by the plaintiffs to the defendant as collector of customs, as duties, in order to obtain possession of merchandise imported for the plaintiffs, which moneys were demanded and collected by defendant in excess of the amount authorized by law. This action was certified to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and there resulted in a verdict and judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, from which judgment the case is brought into this Court by a writ of error.
The matter in controversy arose under the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. 488, c. 121.
The plaintiffs claimed the imported articles were dutiable under Schedule N, which was in the following terms:
"Hats, and so forth, materials for: braids, plaits, flats, laces trimmings, tissues, willow sheets, and squares, used for making or ornamenting hats, bonnets, and hoods, composed
of straw, chip, grass, palm leaf, willow, hair, whalebone, or any other substance or material, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, twenty percentum ad valorem."
22 Stat. 512.
The defendant contended that he was right in having assessed the articles under Schedule L, which provided as follows:
"All goods, wares, and merchandise not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, made of Silk, or of which silk is the component material of chief value, fifty percentum ad valorem."
22 Stat. 510.
In applying these respective clauses, the plaintiffs claimed that articles chiefly used to trim hats with are trimmings, dutiable at twenty percent. The defendant claimed that articles are not materials for hat trimmings when the imported articles bear the commercial name of ribbons, or belong to that commercial class; that, being made of silk, the imported articles in question fell within Schedule L, and that if the jury believed that the articles belonged to the class commercially distinguished under the general name of "ribbons," then the plaintiffs could not recover, even if their chief use was as trimmings for hats, as claimed by the plaintiffs.
The issues thus raised were submitted to the jury in a charge the correctness of which is the subject of our judgment.
The essential deliverances of the court, which determined the verdict of the jury, were in these words:
"Upon the uncontroverted proofs in this case, ribbons are trimmings. The issue here is, what kind of trimmings are the particular ribbons in controversy? Are they trimmings chiefly for hats, bonnets, or hoods? This is a question of fact for the jury, which, if answered in the affirmative, entitles the plaintiff to recover. I instruct you accordingly."
"If you are satisfied under the evidence, considering the preponderating weight of it, that these kinds of ribbons, such as you have here, are commonly and usually used for the ornamentation of hats, then the character of these goods is determined. "
"These are the two facts that you are to consider and determine by your verdict: First, are these ribbons, of which you have samples here, trimmings, within the section of the act of Congress? And secondly, if so, are they used more largely than for any other purpose in the making and ornamentation of hats, bonnets, and hoods? These are the two facts, and as you determine them, this case must be decided."
"In a case that was decided by the Supreme Court which went up from this district, the Supreme Court has unquestionably held that articles which come within the description of this clause of the act are subject only to a duty of twenty percent -- that is, if they are trimmings, and if they are used for making and ornamenting hats, they are classifiable under this clause of the act of Congress, and are subject to a duty of only twenty percent"
"It is immaterial to inquire whether the Supreme Court in terms has said anything about the silk clause. They have determined that articles which are of the character described here, and for the use stated, come within that clause, and are subject only to a duty of twenty percent. That is incontestable. So that by that ruling of the Supreme Court we are governed, and must so expound the law in cases occurring afterwards, and relating to articles of a similar character. "